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Sarah Silverman and the Jewish Mother Fantasy

Drake Instagrammed a photo of Silverman, a comedy ‘Mom’ who knows she’s ‘appealing.’ What does this say about the maturation of Jewish men?

by
Rachel Shukert
June 01, 2016

Drake has a crush on Sarah Silverman. The Canadian rapper—the person your mother brings up constantly to show you there are all kinds of cute Jewish boys in the world, not just the ones you went to Hebrew school with you—posted a photo of Silverman’s SNL headshot to his Instagram feed. (Photos of former cast members famously line the hallways at the august Studio 8H at 30 Rock, where the show is shot, and where Drake played host a few weeks ago.) He added the caption: “I do” along with an emoji of a twinkling diamond ring. As they say in Fiddler on the Roof, it’s a match!

On a recent episode of Late Night With Seth Meyers, the host, who’s also an SNL alum, asked Silverman for her thoughts on this unlikely pairing. Drake, after all, has been “linked to” glamorpusses, such as Rihanna, Zoë Kravitz, and Nicki Minaj. Silverman, on the other hand, said she was notified of Drake’s infatuation with her by “my young comedian friends who call me ‘Mom.’” But Silverman was unfazed.

“I’m sure he has a Jewish mother fantasy,” she told Meyers, bemusedly. The real question on her lips: C’mon Seth, are you really so surprised?

As someone who has twice been called “every Jewish man’s wet dream” by Time Out New York (don’t get excited, I have friends there), I’m with Silverman; the real surprise would be if Drake didn’t have a crush on her. There’s a long and pernicious stereotype regarding successful Jewish men—particularly successful Jewish men with hip or glamorous aspirations—which is that they are interested exclusively in chasing the dated dream of the shiksa goddess as immortalized in thousands of novels, films, and television shows made by (often self-loathing and status-obsessed) Jewish men who are now about the same age as Drake’s grandfather.

But the truth is somewhat different. As Jewish men have become more and more comfortable with themselves, and less ambivalent about their Jewishness, they have also become less resentful of Jewish women. As no less wise a figure than RuPaul says: If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? As a result of Jewish men becoming more secure in themselves and their Jewish identities, they have also become less fearful of the female counterparts who might effortlessly see through—or even empathize with—their crap. If you like yourself, it’s a lot easier to like someone a lot like you, and even want to make them happy.

Back to the Jewish mother thing Sarah Silverman brings up. It’s not so much some sexual roleplay deal, like the sincerely held fantasy of bringing home someone your mother would really, really like, treat as a daughter, and give her jewelry to. Sarah seems very happy with Michael Sheen (the man she hilariously refers to as her “lover”), but if it doesn’t work out, I think she should give Drake a chance. Just as soon as she gets a karat count on that emoji.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.

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